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New England Travel Treasures: Scenic Quabbin Reservoir in Belchertown and Quaint New Salem Center MA
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Quabbin Reservoir Winsor Dam area, Belchertown MA
Quabbin Reservoir at Quabbin Park, Belchertown MA

Article and Photos by Eric H.

Belchertown sounds like the name of a theme park for beer lovers and New Salem brings up images of a modern condo development for witches, but the reality is that these two western Massachusetts towns offer some of the most incredible scenery in New England.

Beautiful countryside first appears, but travel a few hundred yards off the main roads and you'll find the catalyst behind all this New England splendor:  the Quabbin Reservoir. As one of the largest man-made bodies of water and public drinking water supply resources in the United States, the 39 acre Quabbin Reservoir features 181 miles of shoreline with some truly spectacular  views. Designated areas allow for some wonderful hiking opportunities, as well as fishing,  bicycling and picnicking (sorry, no fire or grills).

Picnic table at Quabbin Reservoir

Man-made almost always takes a back seat to Mother Nature, but the Quabbin Reservoir might be an exception to the rule. Earlier in the 20 century, the decision to flood the entire area to build a public drinking supply reservoir meant relocating people, structures and vegetation,. The controversial move led to an incredible natural habitat with sparse human presence. Wildlife present includes wild turkey, white tailed deer, fox, bobcat, loons, bear, moose and birds, including the occasional bald eagle.Quabbin Park, off Route 9 in Belchertown (near the Ware line), stands as the best place to access the scenic wonders of the Quabbin. The Reservoir looks huge here, but is actually just a small part of the entire body of water.  The park's Quabbin Visitors Center offers visitors services and restrooms and 20 miles of hiking trails crossing the Winsor Dam, Goodnough Dike, and the reservoir spillway. You can visit the Visitor Center from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. daily or call 413-323-7221.

Quabbin Reservoir walking path

Quuabbin Reservoir, Belchertown MA

Fishing is also a wonderful Quabbin activity with the following fish present: lake trout, brown trout rainbow trout landlocked salmon, chain pickerel, largemouth bass, and smallmouth bass,  The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) requires that "All private boats launched on the reservoir must now an intact Quabbin Boat Seal that certifies the craft has gone through a DCR approved decontamination process.  Seals must be intact when the boats are inspected by Boat Launch Area attendants prior to launching.  For a schedule of boat inspections/cleanings, call the Quabbin Visitor Center at (413) 323-7221."
 Quabiin Reservoir boats
New Salem is also located on the Quabbin Reservoir, but also offers some of the most heartwarming historic New England scenery to be found in Massachusetts. There's not much to do in New Salem, but one visit to the town center off Route 202 results in a scene that feels totally devoid of stress and full of New England charm. The churches, community meeting house, old homes and a village green will bring you right into the heart of unspoiled New England. Take a refreshing walk here; this is the New England we knew before commercial and industrial development took a strong hold.
 New Salem Center MA

The Quabbin Area also has a convenient location with proximity to the scenic Mohawk Trail on Route 2 that leads to the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts. A few towns away is West Brookfield, another charming small New England community, that is best known as the home of the historic Salem Cross Inn restaurant. Additionally, vibrant college towns like Amherst and Northampton -- with vibrant downtown districts -- are close by.
The Quabbin area, however, can certainly stand on its own as a primary New England travel destination. The chance to commune with nature -- but yet so close to civilization -- is so rare these days, and ultimately a travel revelation embraced.

For more information on the Quabbin, log onto the Quabbin Reservoir web page.

Stay in Amherst MA near the Quabbin Reservoir

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